The former Tait & Co. merchant house is a well preserved residence dating back to the Qing Dynasty. Besides enjoying the era architecture, one can also enjoy historical exhibits inside the building. It is definitely worth a stop on your trip to Tainan.
With the Treaty of Tientsin in 1856 as part of the Second Opium War, Great Britain became free to trade with China in a few select ports including Tainan. As a result, the Tait & Co. rented land near the then British Consulate in Anping, and built a western style residence and storehouse.
The Merchant house and storehouse were originally built for exporting tea, sugar and camphor.
During the Japanese era, the Japanese controlled on a monopoly on most exports like sugar and tea, which cut profits from Tait & Co. and forced it to close Taiwan operations in 1911. After that, it was used by the Japanese to store salt, another important product from Tainan.
After WWII, the building was used as anoffice and dormitory for Tainan Salt Works.
In 1979, it was converted into the Taiwan Development was museum.
It was remolded to include historical exhibits of early western settlers in Taiwan in 2004.
50 NT per person (or 150 NT for this and three other historical sites in Tainan).
Every day 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From central Tainan go west on Minsheng Road until it becomes Anping Road. After that keep going until you see the tower.
By Bus: Take Tainan Bus 2 from Tainan Train Station to Anping Old Fort station. The ride takes about an hour.
Please see below:
I have been to the Tait & Co. merchant house twice. The Anping Tree house behind is the main attraction here, but the merchant house has some interesting historical exhibits.
View of the front of the merchant house. The front gate is locked.
To get inside, you need to pay 50 NT, or 150 NT for four historical sites.
Of course I chose the four historical sites.
Next to the merchant house as you walk in is an information center for Tainan.
The merchant house is to the left.
People resting on benches on the first floor.
"The former Tait & Co. Merchant House"
"Today, Tait & Co. Merchant House is a double-story building with fence surrounding it.
The front facing and the connecting sides of both the first and the second story, brick arched pillars with seven arches are clearly visible. The is followed bu a corridor connecting to the interior of the house. On the upper level, a front porch extends outward with a staircase connecting to the lower level."
First floor gist shop.
A timeline of the history of the building show with LED lights.
"After Anping was re-opened to trade, foreign merchants started to establish trading companies in Taiwan - "yang-hang." The most famous foreign companies during the late Qing Period include the British Tait, Jardain Matheson, and the Boyd. as well as the American Wright and the German Julius Mannich. Amongst these companies, the Tait was the only one that kept operating from its opening in 1867 to the closing in 1911 since Anping was re-opened to foreign business during the late Qing. Later when Japan took over Taiwan in 1895, its monopoly policy in trading significantly cut down the profits of these companies, while sugar, the main source of income for the foreign companies in Taiwan, was also controlled by Japanese merchants. As the business went down, those western companies started to shut their trading posts in Taiwan, and the buildings they left became the offices for either Japanese government, or Japanese companies."
View of an era British dining room.
Era map of Taiwan.
Explanation of exports at the time.
More historical artifiacts.
Changing billboard with Fort Zeelandia.
Another era map of Taiwan.
"From Tayouan to Anping"
"In early 1661, Koxinga retreated to Tainan from China, and forced the surrender of the Dutch reign by the end of the year after a series of battles of land and siege. He then founded the Kingdom of Tungning, the first Han Dynasty in Taiwan. During Konxinga rule, he changed the name of Tayouan into Anping, and kept this place as the administrative and economical center, as well as the port for foreign trades. By the Zheng Jing period, this eldest son of Koxinga further actively doing business with foreign powers and encouraged them to establish trading posts in Taiwan. In 1672, the Honorable East India Company founded an office in Anpiong that located in the old city hall of the Dutch, and kept operating until 1683, when the kingdom of Tungning surrendered to the Qing government. After Taiwan was officially a part of the Qing's Territory, Anping gradually turned into a port that deals with the business from China rather than the rest of the world. Yet Anping was still the vital commercial port and communication gateway of Taiwan. In the early Qing Rule, the Taijiang area was described as the 'vast water that harbors thousands of ships,' showing the prosperous of trading activities."
Pottery from the period on display.
An old anchor on display.
View of the second story balcony.
View looking at Fort Zeelandia from the second storey balcony.
After checking out the Tait and Co. Merchant house, you should definitely check out the Anping Tree House behind it. For our full blog on Anping Tree House, click here.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our blogs on Tainan to come!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.